Chapter 4: Buffalo

Teacher's Guide Chapter Author: Angie Weigel, 5th grade teacher, Goolsby Elementary School,Clark County School District

Chapter Overview:

Chapter 4 is titled 'Buffalo' and begins with a journal entry from Sallie dated May 13th, 1858. In her entry, Sallie explains what it is like to be part of such a large wagon train and notes that she has a new friend from the other wagon train named Ellen Baley. It is quite evident that the two wagon parties coming together has renewed the travelers' spirits and the mood is now much more light and positive. Even Sallie's sister, Liefy, seems to be glowing because (as we learn later in the chapter) she has been getting close to Frank Emerdick, one of the cattle hands from the Baley wagon train.

An entry by Sallie the following day explains that her father paid a captain in a passing wagon train to mail letters for them to their family back in Iowa. As Sallie is finishing up her entry, she is startled by the sound of buffalo trampling across the prairie. Sallie and her siblings are delighted at the sight because they know that means they'll have fresh meat to enjoy and not the salted pork they've become so accustomed to.

The next morning, as the men are out hunting, Sallie and Ellen decide to go fetch some water from the stream. As they're collecting the water in their buckets, Sallie explains how Liefy acts around Frank and how Frank makes excuses to see Liefy. While down at the stream, the girls run into Mr. Udell, the Baptist preacher, who is washing his clothes, and ask him why he didn't go hunting. He explains that he's hunted plenty of buffalo in his day and how he's made the trip to California three times. As the girls walk back, Ellen says she overheard her mother say that his wife should have never tried to make the trip as she was quite ill.

When the girls return back to camp, they help with chores. When Sallie sees her stepfather, she asks him if they shot any buffalo and he explains that they shot five and one antelope. Just then, Mr. Hedgpeth asks Sallie to round up the children and knives to prepare jerky. Sallie finds several recruits and the men show the children how to make thin strips to preserve the meat over a fire. As the children are working, a baby buffalo walks up. As Sallie pets it and asks where it came from, Mr. Hedgpeth explains he caught it, and much to Sallie's relief, they won't be eating it any time too soon.

Chapter Themes: relief, friendship, excitement, and pitching in to help

Chapter Activities

  • Language Arts
    • Making a 'Video Dairy' of the Trip West
      • As students read Sallie Fox, they create an image to summarize each chapter by representing what Sallie saw. For each image, students also include a caption to help explain what the picture represents. These images are drawn on a piece of filmstrip paper or students can make their own by cutting blank paper in half length wise and then breaking the paper into three or four even sections. These images are then "fed" through a construction paper camera to show the story of Sallie Fox and her journey west. An image for this particular chapter could be the sight of buffalo or maybe Sallie's perspective of how everyones' moods are lighter and happier now that they've teamed up with the Baley wagon train.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5)2.4 SWBAT determine importance in stories
          • a. recall important details/facts of text while reading
          • b. recall sequence of events
          • c. identify purpose
          • d. recall the main idea of text while reading
        • (5) 6.8 SWBAT produce writing with a voice that shows awareness of an intended audience and purpose
    • Letter to Uncle Charles and Aunt Rachel
      • Students will use books and the internet to research how jerky is made. Then they will write a friendly letter from Sallie's point-of-view to Uncle Charles and Aunt Rachel explaining how and why her family makes jerky while traveling west.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5)4.6 SWBAT read and follow multi-step directions in order to perform a procedure or complete a task
        • (5) 5.3 SWBAT write well-organized communications such as friendly letters with envelope in an appropriate format for a specific audience and purpose
  • Mathematics
    • How Much Jerky?
      • Students will pretend they are part of Sallie's family's wagon train. Her father has just shot a 1,200 pound buffalo and Sallie's mom is preparing to make 300 pounds of it into jerky. Using the recipe below, students will work in small groups to first estimate and then determine how much of each ingredient is needed to make 300 pounds of jerky. Students will need to convert each of the fraction amounts of ingredients listed below into decimals and then back into fractions for their final answers.
Jerky Recipe
1 1/2 lbs. Buffalo Sirloin Tip Roast
1/3 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 C Worcestershire sauce
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5)1.9 SWBAT explain the relationships among fractions and decimals using objects and symbols
        • (5)1.15 SWBAT estimate to determine the reasonableness of an answer in mathematical and practical situations involving decimals
        • (5) 1.19 SWBAT generate and solve multiplication problems using whole numbers and decimals in practical situations
    • When Would You Set Out?
        • Students will interview students from other classrooms to determine what month they think would be best to begin their travels west. Students will use this information to create a bar graph to represent the data they collected. They will then research to find the best time (April) and let the students who were polled know what month would be the best and a rationale as to why.
        • (5)5.2 SWBAT pose questions that can be used to guide the collection of categorical and numerical data
        • (5) 5.10 SWBAT select an appropriate type of graph to accurately represent the data and justify the selection
  • Social Studies
    • Trampling the Trial Causes Conflict
      • Students will research the uses that Native Americans found for the whole buffalo and the conflict that arose by the disregard of the use of the whole animal by westward travelers to gain a better understanding of the conflict that arose between Native Americans and travelers.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5)2.2 SWBAT demonstrate an understanding that people may respond to the same incentive in different ways because they have different preferences
        • (5)3.32 SWBAT explore the impact of human modification of the physical environment on the people who live in that location
    • Chartin' Chores
      • Students will identify the chores children were responsible for throughout the text (fetching knives for jerky, hanging laundry on the line, preparing food, collecting buffalo droppings, washing dishes, etc.) They will then compare and contrast them to the chores they are responsible for today. How are they similar? Different? Why is that so?
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5) 3.23 SWBAT list examples of historical movements of people, goods, and ideas
        • (5) 3.35 SWBAT describe how the physical setting influenced an event in the past
  • Science
    • To Spoil or Not to Spoil?
      • Students will identify how food was preserved on the trail as compared to how it is preserved in present times. Students will then work in groups to conduct an experiment to see how the preservation process works and how it extends the time period that food is consumable. Each group will conduct an experiment in which they pickle a different vegetable and compare its longevity to that fresh vegetable. In science notebooks, students will record observations each day to see the changes over time and gain a better understanding for the need of process of preservation along the trail.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5)1.4 SWBAT draw conclusions from scientific evidence
        • (5)1.6 SWBAT design and conduct safe investigations with a partner and with a small group, based on self-generated questions
    • Salt and Food...What Does It Do?
      • Students will work in small groups to research via books and the internet how salt preserves food. They will then construct a flow map on poster board to show step-by-step how food is salted, what it does, why it's useful, and how long salted products last for.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5)1.10 SWBAT cooperate and contribute ideas within a group
        • (5) 2.3 SWBAT investigate and describe that by combining two or more materials, the properties of the resulting material can be different than the original
Historical Overview of Chapter Themes

During this time period, it was such a relief for travelers to meet honest people from wagon trains. Traveling together provided both parties with more protection because of the number of armed men, while at the same time, it allowed for the sharing of supplies. The parties of these wagon trains were able to lend a hand to one another and both sides benefited. Also making friends on the trail to spend the time with helped travelers become distracted from being preoccupied with the length of time it was taking to reach their destination.

Every traveler was expected to pitch in and help out along the way. Older siblings, like Sallie, were expected to help take care of younger siblings. In addition, children were expected to help with chores like fetching water, washing clothes, helping jerk meat, collecting firewood or buffalo droppings for the fire, and assisting in preparing dinner. After the chores were done and everyone had eaten, it was common for someone in the group to play an instrument such as a harmonica or fiddle while everyone danced or chatted around the fire. The travelers worked much harder than they played, but they still took time to appreciate the experiences along the way.

Additional Resources

A link to a website with recipes and directions on how to make jerky in the oven, on the grill, or in a dehydrator

A link to a site for teachers to explain how the processes of salting and pickling preserve food


Mike T. said...

This teacher guide does an excellent job of summarizing the chapter. It fills the teacher in on exactly what is happening and how a teacher could extend even more ideas than just what is written in the lesson plans. The “Video Diary” lesson in the language arts section is a creative way for students to do a Hollywood type storyboard to tell Sallie Fox’s story. One way to extend this is to have the students use a computer art program to draw their pictures, then upload to Power Point. Next the students record their summarization as part of the Power Point presentation and present it to the class. The two math activities are engaging and certainly would challenge the students with real world applications. Native Americans were certainly skilled in using all of the resources available, and tying that into chores that children have will give students a good idea about how difficult survival on the trail could be. Figuring out how to preserve food is a practical activity that would be so enjoyable for students they would be learning without really knowing it. This is a well thought out a effective guide for this chapter.

Miss Warneka said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Miss Warneka said...

The teacher guide is very detailed and user friendly for teachers. I especially liked your extension activity for science using the flow map to explain how to preserve food using salt. One suggestion I would make to engage students in higher level thinkings is to ask them to prioritize the Chore Chart. Have the students decide which chores, taking care of younger siblings, gathering buffalo chips, cleaning etc. are most important to the survival and well-being of the wagon train. Overall, this is a great, ready to use teacher guide.

Christy G. Keeler, Ph.D. said...

You offer wonderful ideas that are truly innovative and very applicable to the chapter. You also do a nice job using the theme of food to engage in cross-curricular planning.

Some thoughts...

I doubt it would be very authentic for Sallie to write about why they make jerky since this was rather common at the time. Could you, instead, have students create a modern-day cookbook entry with instructions and reasons for creating the jerky? There are my cookbooks telling about foods from previous historical eras. You could bring some to the classroom to share as examples.

I love your science activities on food preservation. You might extend this by having students learn about the types of preservatives we use in foods today.

You are an incredible writer! Do you write for other venues as well?